Why A Romantic Read Can Harm Love Lives

A Romantic ReadGenerations of women have devoured Mills & Boon-style romantic fiction. But the ‘rose-tinted’ novels are damaging modern relationships, a leading psychologist claims.

The genre may still account for almost half the novels bought, but its idealised love and sex give readers false expectations, insists relationships expert Susan Quilliam.

And although the stories can be enjoyable and fun, they encourage unreal expectations of a life of unbridled passion and trouble-free pregnancies, she added.

Miss Quilliam hit out at portrayals of non-consensual sex and female characters who are ‘awakened’ by a man rather than being in charge of their own desires.

Writing in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, the TV agony aunt said: ‘Clearly those messages run counter to those we try to promote.

‘A huge number of the issues we see in clinics and therapy rooms are influenced by romantic fiction.

‘What we see is more likely to be influenced by Mills & Boon than the Family Planning Association.’

The books have come a long way in terms of depicting a more realistic view of the world, but ‘still a deep strand of escapism, perfectionism and idealisation runs through the genre’.

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